Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative
The HBCU program came into existence in 1980, when U.S. president Jimmy Carter signed an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on HBCUs. The initiative was created to generate a federal government–wide effort to strengthen these institutions and to help HBCUs gain access to federally funded programs. Under subsequent administrations the program has been strengthened and the role of HBCUs expanded in national affairs.
In 1988 a survey of HBCUs was conducted under the secretary of the interior's Historic Preservation Initiative (HPI). An outgrowth of the White House Initiative, the HPI was established to identify, restore, and preserve those historic structures on HBCU campuses considered to be the most threatened. It was established in direct response to the needs of many of the historically black colleges and universities, which had critical rehabilitation and restoration needs but lacked the resources to repair their buildings.
From 1994 to 1999 Congress appropriated $7 million under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act for HBCU preservation grants. Matching grants were awarded to the United Negro College Fund, and then subgranted by the United Negro College Fund to HBCUs included in the secretary of the interior's HPI.
As recipients of a historic preservation grant award, both Morris Brown College and Morehouse College have already experienced success in restoring the usefulness of a valuable resource. For instance, Gaines Hall at Morris Brown was empty and boarded up, with broken windows, roosting pigeons, and peeling paint. Thanks to the HBCU preservation program, Gaines Hall has been beautifully restored.
HBCU grant funds are appropriated from the Historic Preservation Fund, and administered by the National Park Service.
Albert N. Whiting, Guardians of the Flame: Historically Black Colleges Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Washington, D.C.: American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 1991).
Linda Hall, National Park Service, Southeast Region
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.